Home baker JULIAN COLE shows how to make bread the old-fashioned way by leaving some of the dough overnight.

LESS yeast and more time is the key to proper bread, with fermentation being the way to go. This recipe uses the sponge method, which was the traditional way until the arrival of modern short-cuts. It is adapted from Andrew Whitley’s Scottish morning rolls in his book, Bread Matters. Start this the day before, or if you don’t have time, leave the sponge for a few hours.

Overnight sponge:

5g fresh yeast (about 3g or half a sachet of easy-blend yeast)
130g lukewarm water
50g strong wholemeal flour
100g strong white flour

Combine all the ingredients and mix to form a saggy dough; there is no need to knead at this stage. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave until the morning.

Next day, or a few hours later, make the final dough, containing:

The overnight sponge from above 350g strong white flour 100 strong wholemeal flour (or dark rye if you fancy it) 5g salt 270g water 15g olive oil or butter Optional extras: squidge of honey, toasted seeds.

Mix everything together and knead for eight to ten minutes, or do a series of short kneads and rests if you prefer that method. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave for no more than one hour.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a fat sausage. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment, place the loaves on this, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave for 20 minutes.

Heat oven to highest setting for ten minutes, uncover loaves, slash four or five times with a sharp knife (this creates a pleasing shape when the bread expands in the heat) and bake for ten minutes.

Then reduce the temperature to about 180C and bake for another 20 minutes or so. Remove loaves from tray and pop them back in the oven directly on the shelves for three minutes. Tap bottoms of loaves and return to oven if they don’t sound hollow. Remove and cool on a wire tray.

For rolls: same procedure, but divide the final dough into about 12 pieces, roll into shape, leave to rise, then cook for 15 minutes with the oven a few notches off full blast.